What I’m sharing today is my deeply personal journey in discovering my inner voice and learning to speak up for myself.
My mother, who I deeply adored, brought me up with a traditionally southern approach: one that prioritized being socially acceptable, pleasing, polite, and obedient.
None of these values are inherently wrong, but they can be dangerous. My upbringing inadvertently taught me to diminish myself. I lost sight of my feelings, stifled by my desire to please everyone else. For too long, my voice was silenced.
At 13 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger while I was alone in our family store. I didn’t tell a soul for 40 years.
At 16, I was again sexually assaulted by my high school’s football coach. Again, it took me 40 years to share my story.
This week, we celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the #metoo movement, a movement that empowers people to find their “no,” break through society-imposed shame, and share the truth of their experiences.
In my TEDxGEM in France, I address my own journey to find my voice and speak up against sexual assault.
One of the most important things we can do as parents is teach our kids to trust their inner voice and speak up for themselves. Our children need to know that being well-behaved and considerate does not require them to abandon their feelings, their boundaries, or their autonomy.
Let’s teach our kids that what they have to say is always important. Let’s teach them to speak up and speak loudly—for all the world to hear.